So yesterday we launched the Resolute Shoe project, it is a culmination of a year of work with the local Palestinian community in At-Twaneh, South Hebron Hills and our partners at Fiocco Nerro. This collaboration style isnt new to us at NI, we're always been focused on community with world-wide marketing and local design as a part of the plan.
The thing is that wee never intended to create shoes at all, really... and certainly not these amazing shoes (they really came out stunning) , in fact all of this started as a way to bring a spotlight to the Occupation in Palestine and try and get people to see what is happening in the South Hebron Hills. The fact that we ended up with this amazing shoe is a bonus and sign that a dedicated group of people can make something truly extraordinary when we put our minds to it.
So thinking back to the beginning, it was in late June of 2019 when friends of ours created a show in Tel Aviv filled with craft from the South Hebron Hills. I attended it with the aim of seeing if we could get these stunning tapestries to be showcased by our partners at Uncommon Goods in Brooklyn. The show was nice and I took home a few pieces. We sold some in local shops in the north of Israel and sent a few to Uncommongoods.
Reviews of the tapestries were great but most people wanted something more upscale and Nisnas Industries has become more known for its upscale goods so I came up with the idea of partnering with a shoe maker and to make dress shoes with these patterns.
Now ,what followed the original insight of making these Oxford shoes was a bi-monthly routine of early morning drives (like 4am departures...) to Hebron, and since I live in Haifa, this is a 4 hour adventure each way which let me totally beat for the day but super happy to be able to work on something that actually makes a difference with the local community.
The women's weaving cooperative there are the coolest people and they gear is top-notch, it was great to spend time with them and their families and every time I stopped by it felt like visiting old friends. Obviously, the fact that they live under a brutal occupation and spend much of their time having to deal with the difficulties of this situation makes every visit somewhat tense. Crossing checkpoint on the way and seeing the way settlers behave is troubling but this is the reality of the place, a reality we hope to be able to change. Now I dont think that a pair of dress shoes can end the occupation but with a growing attention to the matter and with the knowledge that what people put on their bodies/ wear/ share, creates awareness, I feel that this can move the needle. This is a thought that I've had for a long time from the very inception of Nisnas, that if people are willing to buy something that they love and that they will talk about then consciousness will change in relation to the thing they purchase. There is always a delicate balance here because we done sell activism, we sell thing that are aesthetic and a pleasure to use and wear so product is #1, change will follow. At least that's the though behind this, it hasnt failed yet so hopefully Resolute will shine like our other gear.
What followed the initial meetings with the weaving cooperative and our friends at Fiocco Nerro was a series of first attempts to make these oxford shoes, some were better than others but the secret for us was to be able to match the fabrics to the leather and make this shoe stand out in a way that made it elegant but not stand out too much to not make the tapestries outshine the shoes. It's a delicate balance that I think we were finally able to hit. Checkout below a final version of the shoe, I think this strikes the balance:
So now we have the shoes on a landing page with the aim of having them on presale in the coming weeks. The reason we are doing it this way is to keep things small and exclusive and also be able to get a sense from our community of how the shoes are received. It's an important first step before we go mass market.